New York-based artist Derrick Cruz has a history of creating unusual jewellery. His previous project, Occulter, was an appointment-only retail space on the Lower East Side that specialised in pieces that were magical, strange and dark. His latest is Betroth, a high-end online-only store bringing together designers and artists to create their version of an engagement or wedding ring.
Cruz’s own designs – the Elements collection – are already available. Visual inspirations range from brutalist architecture to the growing tendrils of climbing plants. Each “element” features three designs, including options for engagement and wedding bands – the diamond-crowned, sustainably sourced platinum band of Water I (from $8,400 – in an edition of 24) is a “deco waterfall inspired by the grill of a 1930s Bugatti”, while Water III ($600) is a pared-back, ridged band in a similar style. Prototypes of some pieces from the collection are available for approval before ordering.
Betroth is also about to unveil a series of collaborations with designers and artists including Kenzo Minami, Alexandre Plokhov, threeASFOUR, Emma Fletcher (Lyell and Tocca) and Carlos Quirarte (The Smile). The project launches next week on Valentine’s Day, with two rings from Roman and Williams, the superstar New York-based interior and product design studio. The two 20ct-gold pieces ($6,900, men’s; $5,900, women’s) feature a central rectangle that appears not so much bevelled as draped like velvet into the band, with triangular geometric shapes at the side, and with inset rubies.
The Roman and Williams ring design is dramatic and special – sculptural, with a forged-by-hand feel. It’s jewellery for modern romance. “It was hand-carved and hand-finished to capture the subtleties of what is meant to feel like a heavy cloth draped over a hard form,” explains Cruz. “This isn’t something you can reproduce with a simple 3D model.”